Ignacio school board debates superintendent pay raise

Ignacio School Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto's contract with the district has included an annual $5,000 pay raise.

At the March 18 board meeting, his contract wasn't in question, but the $5,000 was.

Board members spent 90 minutes in closed session to discuss administrative contracts. Back in open session, board member Luke Kirk made a motion to approve the contract with the pay increase.

Board member Troy Webb objected. He said he was okay with the contract, but he didn't think a $5,000 increase every year is warranted. "It's not about Dr. Fuschetto. I support him, but there's no end to it. If he stays 20 years..."

He wanted separate votes on the contract and the $5,000.

Board president Toby Roderick moved to amend the original motion. The vote was 4-1 to amend it, but Roderick said an amendment needed a unanimous vote.

Fuschetto pointed out that, "According to the terms of my contract, I've already been renewed because I wasn't notified (otherwise) by March 1."

Board members agreed. The contract is for $110,000.

Webb then suggested voting just on the pay increase as an amendment to the original motion. That amendment got a unanimous vote.

"The original motion has been changed," Roderick said. "Now we are voting on the $5,000 increase per year."

Board member Agnes Sanchez asked if they could change the amount. That would be another amendment, Roderick said.

Webb asserted, "I don't think a step increase is necessary every year. He's already highly paid. If he was under-paid, I'd certainly support it."

Fuschetto noted he is also serving as the owner's representative during the school construction projects, in addition to superintendent duties. "An owner's rep would have been over $100,000 a year," he said. "I'm doing it for $20,000."

Once amended, the original motion no longer needed a unanimous vote. The board approved it 3-2, with Webb and Sanchez voting no.

Without further discussion, they then gave unanimous approval to contract renewals for principals Karl Herr, Chris deKay, and Melanie Taylor, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Rocky Cundiff, and Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Pokorney.

Also on March 18, the board approved the 2014-15 school calendar with the first semester to end before Christmas break. Classes will start on Aug. 25.

Fuschetto announced that he and Finance Director Marie Horn will start work on the 2014-15 budget. The budget year starts July 1.

"We don't know what's happening with state funding, the negative factor," he said, referring to several years of state funding cuts. According to figures from the Colorado School Finance Project, Ignacio's funding reduction for the current school year is just over $1 million.

School districts are pressing state legislators to make up for the withheld funding now that the state has budget surpluses.

Roderick said, "There's a billion dollar reserve that the state is collecting interest on."

Fuschetto said, "172 of 178 superintendents are on the same page. (They want) $275 million with no strings attached." Legislators are considering $100 million in a bill referred to as the Student Success Act, he said.

Roderick asserted that bill is in effect coming from interests in Washington DC. It's aimed at the biggest districts, and those districts are against it, he said.

Fuschetto added, "They want the $275 million."

Roderick said, "If the Student Success bill passes, we'll get some money, but we'll have to spend it the way they tell us. It's been a party line vote, Democrats for it. Republicans support $275 million with no strings attached. Colorado is sitting on $1 billion, and they (legislators) don't want to spend it."

State funding cuts for K-12 education have totalled around $1 billion statewide since 2009.